Starting Wednesday January 15, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) will begin providing the required five-day notice to school boards in anticipation of rotating strikes.
For the past couple months the Lindsay Advocate has been speaking to employees and former employees of Lindsay’s Central East Correctional Centre. Citing concern for their jobs (and privacy issues) all interviewees requested anonymity. We also spoke on the record to representatives of the union and to Ontario’s Solicitor General.
“We call them broken toys.”
“They are broken. Mentally broken. Some are suicidal, from a career in corrections,” says one retired correctional officer (CO), describing some of his former co-workers.
As an outsider with no experience with the prison system, I had of course expected stories from COs involving mental health. But I thought I would hear stories of trauma that come with having a job that involves providing custody and control for criminals (or those suspected of criminality): the ‘crazy stories’ of fights, drugs, rape and murder. What shocked me was that the more I spoke to COs (current and retired) the more I learned that the stress these people described was more often about policy, procedure and management then it was about the salacious things I had imagined.
James Mulhern, president of the Lindsay and District Labour Council, remembers the old Labour Day picnics they used to hold 22 years ago. About 10-15 people would show up and wave the flag for fairer wages and better working conditions.
Back then there were better jobs, though, it being just the start of the globalization and privatization wave across Canada and the U.S. that would gut massive numbers of good, full-time, middle class jobs.